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Dry beans are for more than Arts and Crafts

April 9, 2009

Random Person: Oh, so you’re a vegetarian?

Me:  Mhmmm.

Random Person: So, what exactly to you eat?  Mostly beans, right?

Me *thoughts*: Yeah, only beans, just like you eat only meat.

Anyway.  I do eat a lot of beans.  Not only beans.  But they’re up there, right next to all the salads I consume since I am vegetarian and vegetarians only eat lettuce (yeah…don’t get me started).  

Beans are a great way to add diversity to your meals in the form of a fiber-rich protein.  They are also cheaper than meat.  You *could* use canned beans to broaden your dietary horizons, but I encourage you to take it all the way.  Buy some dry beans.  

They are intimidating.  I’ll admit it.  Dry beans remind me of arts & crafts projects at summer camp more than they stimulate my appetite.  It took me awhile to cross the bridge from dry beans as something to paste to paper to beans as something to eat.

And then there are the bean failures.  It happens to all of us.  We feel like we’ve cooked our beans for days, weeks, months.  You go to take a bite of that 3-bean chili only to feel like you’re chomping on Grape Nuts rocks.

But YOU CAN DO IT!  You can harness those starchy little hard pellets and turn them into something edible.  I promise.  

First, a lovely bean recipe to get you salivating, then, a lesson in beans.

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Black Bean Side Dish  (adapted from Elly)
2 tsp. canola oil
1 carrot, diced
3 rings of banana pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup broth
squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium heat and saute onions and carrots.  Add garlic and tomato paste and gently cook.  Add half the beans and mash with a wooden spoon.

Add remaining beans, diced banana pepper, broth, bay leaf, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Simmer 15 minutes and remove bay leaf.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.

Bean Lesson – for expanded info, click here.

If you have a crockpot, and can do a little planning in advance, cooking beans is very easy.  Just cover some dried beans of any variety in your crockpot with water.  Fill to about 2 inches over the level of the beans.  Let soak in crockpot (unplugged) overnight.  Change out the water the next morning, refill the crockpot, covering the beans in 3-4 inches of water, and cook on low for about 5-6 hours.  I’ve used this method for chick peas, black beans, red beans, great northern beans…

There is also a quick soak method that does not involve a crockpot.  Sort and rinse dried beans and place stovetop in a medium stockpot.  Bring water to a boil and allow beans to boil vigorously for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let beans sit for 15 minutes.  Return to heat and simmer 2-4 hours, until done.

Remember not to add any seasonings to the beans until after they are *mostly* cooked.  Salt inhibits the beans from releasing starches.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2009 2:58 pm

    Oooh good to know on the bean lesson! I’ll have to give this method a try. Thanks Branny!

  2. April 9, 2009 4:10 pm

    Ah! I had a bean fail the other night — but they were overcooked, not undercooked … so althought they weren’t pretty and kind of mushy, they still did the trick!

  3. oneparticularkitchen permalink
    April 9, 2009 5:48 pm

    I *love* black beans. Yum!!!

  4. April 11, 2009 8:58 am

    You know how I appreciate your bean lessons! I’m flattered to be a featured recipe in the lesson. :)

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